A bunion is like a bone spur except that it usually forms on the first big toe joint.
The underlying physiological cause of a bunion is short, tight or weak calf muscles.
During the proplusive phase of movement, if heel lift occurs before the swing movement of the opposite leg (because the calf muscles are inelastic), this can cause a spinning or twisting off on the big toe joint(weight bearing) in order to to provide enough time to get the opposite leg in front of the pelvis.
The constant pressure on the side of the big toe joint causes the bone to enlarge to protect itself and stress on the ligaments which will cause the gradual deformation and restricted movement in the joint.
Over a period of time this chronic stress and inflammation may lead to arthritis.
Other contributing factors are; the shape of your big toe joint, the elasticity of your ligaments and poor fitting shoes (or in my case orthotics that did not fit my golf shoes).
Heel lifting while the foot is still pronated can also contribute to PF by causing abnormal stress on other structures in the foot.
Improving the strength and flexibility of the calf muscles can help reduce this repetitive damage by improving your gait. This will not get rid of a bunion that already exists but it may help stop it's growth.
It is my opinion and experience that a muscle should be relaxed prior to stretching or strengthening exercises. Contracted muscles are inelastic and do not stretch or strenghten efficiently. If you try to stretch a contracted muscle you will place excessive tension on the related tendons that you are trying to heal. Therefore, any standing calf stretch or exercise is incorrect because the calf muscles will be automatically contracted.
Stand with your weight evenly balanced.
Bend down and place both hands/fingers on your right calf muscles.
Slowly lift this leg off the ground.
You should feel your calf muscles relax.
Slowly lower your leg to the ground.
You should feel your calf muscles contract.
I hope this information helps someone.
Physical therapist, Principal, Personal Foot Trainers, email (email removed)